Monday 20 April 2009

Review: The Boat That Rocked

Year: 2009
Director: Richard Curtis
Screenplay: Richard Curtis

Synopsis is here

So I listened to an interview with Richard Curtis on Radio 4's The Film Program (look at me listening to grown up radio) and i must say i need to meet the guy. The interview was intelligent, droll and insightful (simply everything this blog isn't). To add to this he recommend to the listeners the beautiful (but depressing) Lilja-4-eva by Lukas Moodysson (BEWARE: film may cause viewer to kill themselves).

It was good that I heard this interview from the man before i watched The Boat that Rocked. Why?

I fucking hate his films.

Be it written or directed by him I usually find myself screaming at the sugary sweet, badly plotted, morally dubious tosh. Morally Dubious? you cry? Yes because if you look past the carefully chosen music and "delightfully British" mannerisms, Curtis is more saccharine and sickly than Spielberg and the only reason he gets away with it is due to the fact that he's not American. I swear that's the only reason he gets away with the horrid piece of shite that is Love, Actually.

That film is the worse offender because not only it's vomit inducing, it's badly plotted, filled with too many characters and over long....there I fucking said it.


Now The Boat That Rocked is badly plotted, filled with too many characters and is overlong. But it's a film which is also filled with some great comic acting, tender moments, features love affair I can get behind (a love of music). The film has a naughty sense of fun and the first act of the film was filled with an energy got me into the groove if you will. The comedy can be a little hit and miss but the film manages to breeze along and I found myself taken along on the ride. I myself was surprised, laughing at the jokes (it's the carry on in me).

But while the film manages to gain a good laugh out of my I left still slightly irritated and the reason why was because Curtis seems to believe that EVERYTHING he writes should be kept in a movie, resulting in a multitude of half developed sub-plots and characters that wait for their turn to say something giggly. Curtis shows his sitcom roots by giving us loads of mini stories that are not allowed to breathe. The film takes on too much, cheapening the overall experience of the film. The film introduces a gaggle of one-note (although amusing) characters and the hint of conflict, but avoids rocking the boat (pun not intended) too much. Everyone on the boat loves each other, the government are too far away to cause any real damage so we float along jumping from half-assed story to half-assed story.

The energy that kept me going through the first act soon drains away. Soon The Boat that Rocked becomes sporadically funny. The actors try their best to keep the joke going and I still found myself smiling at the antics. Smiles but not guffaws as Curtis gives us pirate radio without the rebellion. Wasn't that what the sixties all about? I maybe wrong. Also Curtis decides to "do a Spielberg" and ends the film 15-30 mins after the films seemingly logical climax, tying up loose ends and giving the film a displaced ending which is just not needed.

Acting wise we have an a huge amount of talent on display. Every man on board has at lease one throwaway gag that worth a titter. Curtis can still write well enough for the tank load of Brit film actors and cult sitcom stars and to their credit they show off their timing and charisma well. The women in the film however, either have nothing to say or appear quite mean spirited. In fact one woman preforms an act that would have chick flick audiences strangling their boyfriends if the perpetrator was a man.

The Boat That Rocked is enjoyable enough; the jokes are sitcom-lite but still funnier than My Family, the acting is the best of British and Phillip Seymour Hoffman doing Lester Bangs on a boat (he is only on board for the American crowd clearly). The best thing about the film is the music which of course rocks and it's these things alone that keep the film watchable. The film was almost forgotten about as soon as I left the cinema but it's a damn sight better Love, actually.